Twenty years since Swissair Flight 111

Schonmaierwhatwedon't thinkof packing.jpg

What We Don’t Think of Packing

 

but take along anyway:  the shoes on our feet,

the fifty-four bones in our hands, the memory of

the colour of the sheets on our beds.  We prepare

for flight as if we and the customs officers are the only

 

ones who will ever open our baggage.  Nightshirts close

to the suitcase’s zipper so when we arrive we can quickly

begin to restore what we thought we’d lost.  Certain kinds

of loss we bargain for in transit:  eight hours of sleep,

the memory of where we parked the car—

 

In Canada a man stands at the end

of his driveway talking to a neighbour:  I received

the call—search and rescue.  There was no screaming, no

arms hanging loose.  The helicopter shone light on the water

and we picked up what there was—

 

When I walk the beach with the kids

I know what I’m looking for.

I found a piece of plane and slipped it into my pocket.

Didn’t tell the kids—a scrap

the size of a two dollar coin.

 

Loss jangling, except it’s in a currency

no one else understands even if they were on the boat

when he cupped the child’s sneaker in his palm, insisted

the police promise to return it to the family—We never

 

anticipate losing the memories of what we have already lost—

 

 

From Treading Fast Rivers (McGill-Queen’s University Press)